South Africa's ruling party has dumped several members of President Thabo Mbeki's Cabinet from its executive committee, replacing them with loyalists to new party leader Jacob Zuma.

The African National Congress announced its new leadership early Friday as the party's national conference closed in the city of Polokwane.

Party veteran Winnie Madikezila-Mandela - the ex-wife of former President Nelson Mandela - received the most votes of anyone elected to the 80-member committee.

South Africa's Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Defense Minister Mosiuoa Lekota were among those ousted.

The ANC chose Zuma over Mr. Mbeki in an election for ANC president on Tuesday.

In a speech to party faithful, Zuma said he and Mr. Mbeki have been comrades in the ANC for years and will develop "smooth working relations."

Zuma also told reporters that if prosecutors want to press corruption charges against him, they should take him to court. He was responding to reports that prosecutors are close to a decision on whether to file charges against him.

Zuma previously served as South Africa's deputy president but was fired in 2005 for allegedly accepting bribes in connection with a government arms deal. He denied any wrongdoing, and the charges were later dismissed on a technicality.

Zuma's election as ANC president puts him in strong position to succeed Mr. Mbeki as South Africa's president in the 2009 elections.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.